On a steep rocky uphill, I shifted down to my lowest gear. I kept pushing the pedals, but—unexpectedly—my bike didn’t move. And when you don’t move, you lose balance. And when you are clipped in with your cleats, you can’t catch yourself. Logical consequence—I fell over like a dead-weight! Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself except for some minor scratches. My long sleeves had protected me once again. When I got back up, I examined the reason of my ungracious fall—the chain had come off.
Whatever the reason, standing still while stiffly fixated on your position is not a good idea, and I guess that applies to life in general. Always keep moving.
NB: Later during the long climb, while capturing the scenic views, I wondered why my phone glass is broken. It would take me over an hour to make the association!
Stage 48: Makongolosi – Mbeya (Tanzania), 110km
Road & traffic condition:
Other than off-road Sudan with 45+° C temperatures, today might as well have been our most difficult cycling day so far. To start with, everyone has been exhausted by the six preceding cycling days—our longest section yet.
The first 40 kilometers of our ride could easily be described as pure torture. We cycled over non-stop corrugation and big loose rocks. Butts and palms sore from the prior days, constant bumps didn’t help to ease the pain!
Combined with some steep uphills and downhills, the loose rocks constantly threatened our balance on the bike, at least for those lacking mountain biking skills (i.e. me). Others suffered from multiple punctures that drained their mental energies.
Once we finally reached the tar road, heavy headwind made us earn lunch. After lunch, the heavy headwind subsided, but a long and steep climb up a seemingly never-ending mountain road drew upon the last bits of our energy reserves.
With a total ascent of about 2,000m, this has been our biggest climbing day so far on the tour, as well as my entire life! Several riders got on the truck at lunch or halfway on the climb. Without the past two months of training, I don’t think I could have managed today’s stage. With the past two months, and the help of three energy bars, it really made me earn my EFI.
Those of us who pushed through were rewarded with stunning views into Mbeya and the surrounding hills, as well as a nice long downhill on great new tar (we were warned about lots of potholes, but seems they’ve repaired the road since last year).
Overcast and 20s° C to start with, climbing above 30°C after lunch. Luckily, when I reached the most difficult sections of the climb, it cooled down significantly. Dark clouds covered Mbeya, but I didn’t get wet.
According to Wikitravel, only one place stands out as THE place to eat: Mbeya hotel. Luckily, that’s where we’re camping. Owned by Indians (like many places in Eastern Africa), it specializes in Indian (and Chinese) food.
People made fun of me because I ordered three dishes. According to Muzz, I eat like a horse (usually piling my plate once more with food once they call out open kitchen). Tonight, great chicken tandoori accompanied by palak paneer and raw veggie filled me up and made me fall asleep in no time.
Long and difficult riding day, rewarded by our first shower in seven days (and it was hot!), as well as the outlook of a rest day tomorrow.
My awkward fall; making it throughout the day in a reasonable time and with a positive mind; changing back to road tires after arriving at camp so that I’d have a full day free to relax during our upcoming rest day (or perhaps because I couldn’t wait to get rid of my heavy knobbies); eventually finding the reason for my slow punctures in my rear tire—a tiny piece of wire.